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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (May 8th, 2019)

1. Scientists used drones to create radiation maps of Chernobyl's radioactive "Red Forest" in Ukraine. The forest is less than 2,000 feet from the Chernobyl nuclear complex, where fallout from the 1986 explosion caused many of its trees to die and turn orange. Scientists used a drone-mapping system from the U.K.'s National Centre for Nuclear Robotics to survey the contaminated area from a safe distance and built a 3D map of the area, followed by a radiation map showing more detailed radioactive hotspots, which was provided to Ukrainian authorities. - SKY NEWS

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2. The U.S. market for commercial drones is expected to triple over the next four years, according to the FAA's 20-year forecast released this week. The report also took a look at past drone growth, which showed that the use of non-commercial drones rose by 170 percent last year, exceeding FAA expectations of 44 percent. As of Dec. 31, more than 900,000 drone owners have registered with the FAA. The agency also registered 116,000 new drone pilots in 2018, with forecasts predicting it will rise to 350,000 by 2023. - THE VERGE

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3. Students in New Mexico will use drones to map out 100 million-year-old dinosaur tracks at Clayton Lake State Park in the state's northeastern territory. Four different species of dinosaurs created the tracks within the same year along the ancient sea coast, according to a curator from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, which teamed with New Mexico State Parks and Central New Mexico Community College students on the project. The drones will be used to capture various views of the track sites, which will then be used to create digital 3-D models, maps and other findings. - AP

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4. The Bell Nexus multi-passenger drone turned heads at this year's AUVSI XPonential in Chicago, Drone DJ reports. While not the world's first passenger drone, the Bell Nexus is notably larger (about the size of a small school bus) than the Hoversurf Hoverbike, Ehang 184, and Volocopter, for example. It is classified as a drone since it can be flown by a pilot onboard or autonomously, as it capable of vertical take-off and landing with a theoretical top speed of roughly 150 mph. Mitch Snyder, Cell's president and CEO, said it will help solve ground-level transportation issues with through the company's "on-demand mobility vision." - DRONE DJ

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5. After receiving approval for a controversial drone pilot program last year, the Los Angeles Police Department deployed drones only twice during the first three months of this year, according to the latest agency figures.

6. A drone was used to drop flyers containing anti-press messages and swastikas outside of an Ariana Grande concert in Sacramento, California, which is now under investigation.

7. Police are searching for the pilot of a drone that flew close to planes at the U.K.'s Edinburgh Airport. Plane crews spotted the drone on Monday night, although authorities are uncertain if it actually entered restricted airspace.

8. Students at St. Mary’s University in Texas developed a top mounting camera system for drones that could help improve bridge inspections. “Instead of going out there and buy a drone that cost five figures in order to accomplish the same task, you can spend $150 to $200 on what we’ve done and accomplish the same thing,” said one student.

9. The ACLU expressed concerns that a sheriff's office in North Carolina may have violated the law when it used a drone to gather evidence that resulted in a felony arrest.

10. In his latest YouTube video, drone enthusiast David OC captured some amazing FPV footage of wakeboarders trying out their skills.

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Written and curated by Beth Duckett in Orange County. Beth is a former reporter for The Arizona Republic who has written for USA Today, Get Out magazine, and other publications. Follow her tweets about breaking news in southern California here.

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside); Susmita Baral (senior editor at Inside, who runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram); and David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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